We have all heard about the benefits of crop rotation in farms and in our vegetable gardens. Now a study by researchers at the University of New Hampshire has shown that crop rotation increases soil fertility by boosting the diversity of soil microbe populations. That is, with no other inputs, soil health and soil fertility increased just by rotating crops. (https://colsa.unh.edu/aes/croprotation). This concept of moving plants around to both reduce disease and help the soil extends to our garden beds. It might not be practical to rotate or remove our garden shrubs but we do need to re-consider how we design our gardens.
Many of us have admired the look of swathes of mass plantings of single species that are often depicted in magazines and garden web sites. This style of gardening has become widely used, particularly on larger blocks where it is an easy and effective means of landscaping. It is well known that a single plant gets lost in a garden where a mass planting stands out and looks impressive. But beware, too much of one thing can be a mistake.
Pests and diseases are starting to flourish in plants that were previously thought of as being easy care, and mass planting is contributing to this problem in big way. To understand why this is happening read Catherine Stewart’s article “Why we must stop mass planting now” shared to the Tanby Garden Centre blog. (www.tanbygardencentre.com.au/blog)
It is time for us to become more adventurous in our gardens, make them more diverse. You don’t have to grow a cottage garden if that’s not your style but just mix things up a bit. Even a multi species informal hedge is possible.
Call into the garden centre and we can give you some help and ideas.